“Consult the genius of the place in all.”
Alexander Pope, Epistle to Burlington (1735)
I know I have repeatedly mentioned staking of plants in recent months but I found a prime example of the reason why. I was out and about garden visiting last week and I took this photo in an otherwise immaculate garden where the owner paid great attention to detail and was fastidious in her presentation and maintenance. The staking, however, is awful. What you are looking at is one of a small group of standard lollipop Choisya ternata, sometimes called Mexican or mock orange-blossom because of its white scented flowers. The stem is not yet strong enough to hold the head up without snapping. The stake to the left is the nursery staking and tying, put in place to train the plant up. The stake to the right has been added, I assume, by the gardener who was presumably worried – and rightly so – that the nursery stake might not be sufficient in her garden. Both are green plastic and the nursery has used a shiny, commercial black plastic tie.
If the look doesn’t worry you, then it doesn’t matter. To me it stuck out like a sore thumb. If the plant had been positioned with the stake around the back, it would have helped. But it would look much better without the plastic. A discreet length of rusted metal would be my choice. When replacing a stake, don’t force the new stake in hard by the trunk, making a new hole. You are severing the roots and will do more damage than good. Try and use the existing channel made by the stake you have removed to avoid fresh damage.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.